Ol’ Winston rules out offshore, rock, beach fishing

THE remains of tropical cyclone Winston, which devastated parts of Fiji last Saturday, are due to bump along our coast tomorrow.

Although only a shadow of its former self, we can still expect the cyclone formerly known as Winston to produce 4m swells and 25-knot winds, knocking out any thoughts of fishing offshore or from the rocks and beaches.

But spare a thought for the poor people of the Lau Group, Koro, Ba and Rakiraki who experienced 170-knot winds and 12m seas, and if you can also spare a dollar for them, please do.

They might already be picking up bits of their wrecked houses but it'll be months before their devastated reefs and shredded gardens are producing again.

Back home, focus will be on the estuaries this weekend with clean, clear water and good tides offering room for exploration.

Brett at Ballina Bait and Tackle says the Richmond is cleaning up pretty well with school mulloway and flathead upstream to Wardell and crabs in North and Emigrant creeks and the main river.

The Evans and Brunswick rivers are also fishing fairly well, especially on the falling tide as the water colours up a little and the fish become less wary.

Going artificial

PORT Macquarie has become the latest beneficiary of the NSW Fisheries artificial reef program, funded from recreational fishing licence money.

Over the past month, the 20 concrete modules, each 5m tall and weighing 23 tonnes, were built in Newcastle and barged 250km to the reef site.

Each reinforced concrete module was lowered by crane to the seabed in 46m of water, about 6km off the Hastings River bar.

The completed structure takes up about 1600 cubic metres, providing a huge amount of shelter, shade and potential habitat for a wide variety of marine life.

Port Macquarie until now has been pretty limited in the amount of reef available to trailerboat fishers unwilling to put in the 8NM up to Barrys Bay or south down off Bonny Hills.

I can't help thinking of another NSW river town with very limited reef structure within easy reach of the average trailer boat. Worth putting up your hand, Ballina.

Sandon crab haul

CHARGES are pending against two men, from Nymboida and Coutts Crossing, whom Fisheries officers allege were in joint possession of 56 mud crabs.

Fisheries officers encountered the men at a campsite on the Sandon River early on February 3 and located the crabs, already trussed up with string, in two tubs.

A cast net was also found in the camp, they said.

The use of cast nets and their possession adjacent to NSW waters is illegal.

All crabs were returned to the water alive and the cast net seized.

The possession limit for mud crabs is five per person and not more than two traps can be used (or in possession) by any person at any one time.

The maximum penalty for exceeding possession limits is $44,000 and/or 12 months' jail.

Possession of a cast net adjacent to any NSW waters can draw a maximum penalty of $22,000 or six months' jail.

That means you can't carry one in your boat or in your car, regardless of whether you intend to use it.